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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  June 5, 2011 8:15pm-9:00pm EDT

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president theodore roosevelt involvement in the real imaging of football which saved the sport from being banned and ultimately led to the creation of the national collegiate athletic association. this is about 40 minutes. >> if you're wondering what kind of knucklehead puts out a book about football at the start of baseball season, the answer is the same kind of knuckleheads who is a lifelong fan of the beach reliance. the good thing about being a lifelong fan of the joint lions is that the experience teaches important life lessons. for example, how to deal with severe and ongoing
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disappointment. i've learned that humor helps. who knows the difference between the dietrich clients and a dollar bill? it turns out that from a dollar bill you can still get four quarters. [laughter] >> thank you. i will be performing all week at aei. let's talk about football and theodore roosevelt. i would like to start with a statistic. in 190518 people died playing football. it 1905, 18 people died playing football. so we hear a lot today about the problem, concussions and head injuries and the long-term health effects. this is a controversy in football today, but it's got nothing on the challenges football faced a little more than a century ago. so let's go back in time. in 1876, theodore roosevelt
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attended its first football game. he was an 18-year-old freshman at harvard university. he got on a train with a bunch of friends and they went to new haven connecticut where they watched the second ever football game played between harvard and yale. so in the history of college sports a lot of great rivalries. michigan has ohio state, alabama has auburn, the heritage foundation has the brookings institution. harvard has yale and let's remember the ivy league is an affleck conference. 1876 they split their second ever football game. the weather was lousy. it was cold, the winds were so strong the ships couldn't leave the harbor. roosevelt shivered on the sidelines that day and then he watched the game. the sport he saw was different than the one we know today. there were no quarterback, there were no wide receivers, there
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were no forward passes. football was in its infancy. before the play began, the captains from the two teams met to discuss the rules they would play by. what would account for a score, how many people would be on the field at a time? they were like school kids at recess talking about where the sightlines would be, how to count blitzes', whether they play touch or tackle, this is what they did before that game. when it can to football, harvard was the teacher and jail was the student. just a few years before that game and 1870's, harvard sent yale and elongated ball because up until that point, the team had been practicing with a spherical the case soccer ball. harvard send them this fall and was shaped like a watermelon, and the players didn't know what to do with it and they discussed fundamentals like do you kick this on the indoor the middle
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of, they just didn't know. before the game started when the captains met on the field harvard's veterans appealed to a couple of proposals that the team put forward. they would have a lasting impact on how football is played and that is they would have 11 men each side until that .15 was the custom. this was the first that had 11 men each side and of course that continues today. the second suggestion would and shape the future of the game but it would affect the outcome of that day and they decided they wouldn't count for points but what they do is give you an opportunity to score points. in other words you score a touchdown you wouldn't get six points you get no points the would get an extra point. so the ticket after the goal that would allow you to score.
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dewitt fell over a rope tight between poles and the end zone. so the game gets under way into harvard scores a touchdown. under the rules of the day they don't get any points. they make their attempt and a mess. no points at all. at halftime it is a scoreless tie. zero to zero. they drive into harvard territory. a freshman named walter camp em football was a player that they tried to shuffle the ball backward and make a tester teammate, a lousy pass, the ball bounced, it took one of those funny copps football can take and confuse the most veteran player. one of these funny hops and oliver thompson in the backfield another yale player decides to take a chance to read kicks from 35 yards out and add an improbable anchor the ball sailed over the rope between. it's one to nothing, yale and
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that is how the game ended. over harvard in 1876. the loss frustrated roosevelt. in a letter to his mother the next day he didn't say whether he enjoyed himself, the future president knowingly a football future popularity with couldn't anticipate their role he would play in the game's future, but he did give voice to the frustration we all know in the agony of defeat. i'm sorry to say we were beaten, he wrote to his mother, principally because the opponent's paid very foul. in a moment i will talk more about teddy roosevelt and what he did to save football but i would like to see why football matters but to me personally, both to americans generally. i met my wife on the way to a football game in ann arbor. we walked from our dorm across campus to michigan stadium.
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my first clear memory of her. we didn't start dating until basketball season, but our bond was formed out of a mutual love. my romance with college football actually goes back further with my father teaching me how to sing hail to the victors, and when we talk about the carter era we were not referring to a troubled presidency in the 1970's, we are talking about a time when anthony carter wore a helmet and scored a touchdown passes under the watch of the coach declared a faded memory. when i attended my games at michigan as a student along with my future bride and more than 100,000 of our closest friends it dawned on me that these games are not just pieces of entertainment, they're the moment athletic competition, they are cultural events of deep significance that can unite a diverse campus of english majors
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and engineering students that can bring a state together, alumni and malt alumni, black-and-white, white-collar engineers and he union lunch bucket guys. a union can bring them all together. conversations about the team of our social icebreakers. the rich rodriguez year is over. i'm glad the rich rodriguez year is over. it can bring people together in a way few other things can. my marriage is not the only one that goes a debt to the game. it's the texas longhorns or the hillsdale chargers it's almost tribal. in some cases such as my own and as practically inherit it. whatever its origin, it has the power to form a lifelong royalties and passions. when i hear the michigan fight song i still get a chill down my spine. as a close close cousin to
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patriotism. my man allegiances are to god, family and football. let's face it objectively speaking football is an awesome sport. no other game has a combination of group force and greece, pure grace with 99-yard sprints and goal line stands the crashing bodies of the line of scrimmage and well executed play involving 11 men on the field the infantry combat of a rushing attack in the air war might be passing game. there's a strong intellectual dimension as well baseball made baskets reputations of cerebral past time but no sport demands more meticulous planning or calculation in football. it's not just for players and fans to secure that but the coaches and the generals who second-guess their every decision. football has become the most popular sport in the united
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states. millions of kids play under friday night lights. millions more fans filled stadiums and watch on television on fall weekends. americans are more likely to know the name of their favorite team's quarterback than to know the name of their congressman and there's a good case to be made of their priorities straight. so football occupies a central place in our lives. yet there was a moment when football almost was taken away from us. a time when its very existence was in mortal power to leave apparel because a collection of progressive prohibitionists tried to ban the game. they objected to its violence and their favorite solution was to smother a newborn sport in its cradle. had the enemy of football got in their way, they might have erased one of america's great pass times from our culture. it's the remarkable efforts of the roosevelt, one of america's
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most extraordinary men to thwart them. as i mentioned modern controversy over football and violence are with us about a year ago "time" magazine put football on its cover with the headline too dangerous for its own good. then there's that statistic i shared earlier in the 190518 people died playing football. the sad thing is this was not unusual in fact was normal every year this kind of thing was going on. a dozen or more people would die. even more suffered grievous injuries. a lot of the casualties were kids and sand lot of games but it also affected big-time football. there were no professional leagues at them, they were college football games. players at the university of georgia, university virginia, our economy become union college by playing football. football isn't a contact sport. it's a collision sport.
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this is especially true in its early years football prius size and strength and so on. this is true back then. from the rules compress the game's actions rather than spread it across the field. it looks more like rugby than what we know today, and it's almost a series of goal light stands over and over again as mrs. of bodies grappled without the benefit of protective gear. the era of letterheads lee in the future. nobody wore helmets, face masks, shoulder pads, that was all just coming into practice. during the frequent pileups hidden from the referees players would wrestle by throwing punches and jutting elbows, the most on unsporting participants were trying to gouge out all eyes. bruises, sprains and other injuries were taken for granted. more serious impairment such as practical cracked bones or
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causes for greater concern but generally accepted as unfortunate byproducts of an entertaining and demanding past time. the deaths were the worst, they were not just for accidents as much as the inevitable toll of an activity that encouraged strongmen to crash into each other over and over over the course of an afternoon. it can become a life-threatening calamity when the heart of rusting me of a ball carrier hits the head of a guy trying to tackle him. this letter horrified a group of activists who crusaded against football. they wanted not merely to remove fire lines from a sport but to ban it altogether. at the dawn of the progressive era the prohibition of football gate became a social and political movement whose most outspoken proponents included the renowned harvard president charles w. eliot from a screen university wisconsin professor
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jackson turner muckraking journalist even in the aging confederate general john mosby. the new york evening attacked sports sedan in the nation and an influential opinion -- influential magazine of news and opinion which worried the colleges would be coming, quote come huge training grounds for young the gladiators who spectators roared as the amphitheater. "the new york times" commode football's trend towards mayhem and homicide. about two weeks after printing those words the times ran an editorial that line was too terrible evils, the first easily addressed was the lynching of blacks in the south, the second they addressed was football. the main figure in the movement to ban football was charles w. eliot the president of harvard, he was probably the single most important person in the history of higher education in the
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united states. we think of harvard is a great american university a lot of that goes back to charles eliot and what he did over the course of 40 years when he was president of the college. he was to harvard what ed former has been to the heritage foundation, you might say. ..
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>> football disstressed him even more. he believed it was improper for a running back to attack an opposing team's line and the proper thing to do was to protect the strongest part. that's what a gentleman would do. he liked almost nothing about the game. most of all, he dispiased its violence. time and again, he condemned football as evil. one of the main adversaries was walter camp, the guy who played in the game teddy watched. it was a good football player, but made his mark as a coach and rules maker, the closest thing football has to a founding father. he invented quarterback, the concept of possessions and downs and line of scrimmage and formations, the way the game was scored, unvirtually every aspect of football, camp left his mark in the 1980 --
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1880s and 1890s. he made the sport popular. they made the idea of the all-american, a term that is familiar now, but didn't exist before them. one the primary motivations was to encourage controversy about who should be on the all-american team each year. he made football not only a great game to play and watch, but a great game to discuss and debate. in the rivalry between elliot and camp, we see one of the ongoing conflicts in american poll politics on display,s fight of the progressives in a dream of a world without risk, and the resistance to the agenda. they identified a problem with football, but the preferred solution was radical, regulate football out of existence because they believed participants were not capable of making judgments about the costs and benefits of the game. instead, elites would relieve
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player of the burden of choosing to play or not to play. they take away the freedom to play and ban the support. into the struggle steps theodore roosevelt, one of the most remarkable men to walk across the stage in politics. he suffered from asthma. he was so sick, many relatives wondered if he'd survive into adulthood at a time when was not uncommon for children to survive into adulthood. the parents tried everything they could resorting to having the poor kid smoke cigars, and nothing worked. eventually, his folks concluded that teddy simply would have to overcome this. there's a story in the family lore in this the father summons the boy. you have the mind, but not the body, and without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as
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far as it should. you must make your body. he threw back his head, flashed his grin and said, i'll make my body. he's about 11 years old when that happened. soon after, he began to exercise in the gym. later on, he's in boxing lessons and he hunted. he really did make his body. the asthma stayed with him for years, but eventually it would slip away the way it does, and by the time he was an adult, it was largely gone. for roosevelt, the lesson of a commitment to physical fitness could take a little boy turning him into a vigorous young man. as roosevelt was coming to believe this, he was becoming a fan of football as were so many other americans. he remained a fan graduating from harvard, entered politics, branched out west, and was an increasingly visible public figure. in 1895 shortly before he was
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president of the new york city police commission, he wrote a letter to walter camp. it's a great letter, and i'll read about 300 words from it. i'm glad to have a chance of expressing to you the obligation i feel all americans are under to you for your championship of athletics. the man on the farm and in the workshop here as in other countries is apt to get enough physical work, but we are tending in america to produce classes, like he's worrieded about too much video game watching, but in this way, the athletic spirit saved us. i like football the best, and i would rather see my boys play it than see them play any other. i have no patience with the people who declaim against it because it necessary sees at a times rough play and injuries. the rough play confined in manly and honorable limits is an advantage, a good thing to have the personal contact by which the new york evening post ?acials so much and no fellow is
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worth his salt if he mind an occasional bruise or cut. being nearsighted i could not play football in college and i never cared for rowing or baseball so i did my work in boxing and wrestling, good exercises, but not up to football. i'm disgusted with president elliot and the harvard faculty about football. i do not give a snap for a good man who candidate fight and hold his own in the world. a citizen has to be decent, of course, that's the first reck sit, but the second and just as important, he should be efficient, and he's not first time unless he is manly. nothing impressed me more meeting college graduates that on fact on average the men who have counted most have been those who had sound bodies. roosevelt saw football as more of a diversion, it was a positive social good and believed it so much in 1898
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while recruiting the rough riders, you know the story, he wanted to sign cowboys and westerners to join the rough riders. that's true, but he said he wanted college football players, and he signed them up. well, he thought it would give them the experience the athletics in college gave them the stuff it could take to win a war in cuba. the duke of wellington reportedly said the battle of waterloo was won on the playing field of eat on. when he e emerged as a national hero, one who was talked about as possibly presidential timber, he knew how much he owed not just to the rough riders, but to the culture of manliness and risk taking that had shaped them. like ruse vent, our -- roosevelt, our society values sports, but we don't think about why or why we should.
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my kids played football, baseball, soccer, hockey, lacross je. it forces me to think about a question all parents ask. why do we want our kids to play sports? why not let them spend more time in front of the tv or studying ancient and greek literature? ray lot of parent -- a lot of parents reply with the obvious fact that sports are good for fit rns and discuss the intangible benefits of learning about team work, building character, things like that. it turns out that there really is something to all of this. empirical research shows us that kids who play sports stay in school longer. as adults, they vote more often, and as adults they earn more money explaning why this is true is trickier. it probably has something to do with developing a competitive instinct and a desire for achieve. . roosevelt was probably correct in believing sports influenced
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the character of nations. americans of much more likely to play sports and likely to attribute economic success to hard work as opposed to luck. it may be the sports are a manifestation or possibly even a source of american exceptionalism. in 1899, roosevelt wrote a kids version of his famous speech on the strep yows life, probably the most famous speech he gave. he wrote it for a magazine called st. nick laws describing how a boy can grow into the kind of american man of whom america can be really proud. this meant playing sports. "great growth and love of athletic sports had an excellent effect on increased manliness." he singled out rough sports for pluck, endurance, and physical fitness and had a direct
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reference regarded as the roughest sport of all. "in short, in life as in a football game, the principle to follow is hit the line hard, don't foul and don't jerk, but hit the line hard." that was his voice for kids. soon enough, he was one of the hardest hitting chief executives ever to occupy the white house. his overall political legacy is mixed, but he was unfailingly colorful. as roosevelt presided in washington, football was controversial and harvard's elliot continued his crew said for prohibition. he was persuaded to act. he invited walter camp of yale to the white house and also the coaches from harvard and princeton, the three bigger college football programs at the time. a lot changed since then, obviously, but those were the three biggest programs at the timement invites him over if a
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football summit. football is on trial he said in their private meeting. because i believe in the game, i want to do all i can to save it uncernlging them to have brutality. they promised they would. walter camp didn't see anything wrong with the way football was played and practically invented the game. he tweaked the rules and thought things were right by 1925, and he was happy how football was. another man named bill reed took roosevelt more seriously. as a harvard man, reed understood the threat to football differently. he knew that elliot still wanted to eliminate the game and was in weeks of meeting roosevelt feared elliot was on the verge of success at harvard. this almost certainly would have encouraged the department to drop the sport, and this would have encouraged other colleges to do the same. they were all looking to harvard
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for leadership. this would have endangered the future of football in america, reed thought. so at the end of 1905 season, reed plotted with a group of reformed minded colleagues to form an organization that today we know of as the ncaa. they approved a set of sweeping rule changes to reduce football's violence. in committee meetings, reed outmaneuvered camp and got critical behind of scenes support from roosevelt. that offseason, football experienced an extreme makeover. the yardage necessary for a first down increased from five yards to ten. the rules also created a neutral zone at the line of scrimmage, limited the number of players in the back field and made the personal foul a heavily penalized infraction. they also banned the tossing of ball carriers. no longer could now throw guys across the line. these were important revisions,
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but the one that would transform the sport was the add vent of the forward pass. up to that point, football was a game of running and kicking, no passing. there were quarterbacks, but no wide receivers. for years, a number of football men had wanted to introduce the forward pass, and among them was a coach named john heisman, but camp blocked them in a committee he dpom nateed. this changed after roosevelt's intervention. they decided to permit the forward pass and opened up the game. it took them a few years to get the rule right. coaches and teams didn't always know how to take advantage of the latest revisions and had to make footballs more dynamic turning them from water melons to the shape we know them today. eventually, however, it all clicked. in a november 1, 1913, football
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moved into the modern era. army, the u.s. military academy at west point, had one of the best teams in the country. they were considered real national championship contenders that year. on a saturday afternoon, they were scheduled to play a game against the little known catholic school from the midwest. army wants big score, read the headline in the "new york times" that morning. it was going to be a blowout. you know, just like when michigan played appalachian state a few years ago. [laughter] well, you can probably guess the rest of the story. the little known catholic school from the midwest was notre dame. the teammates launched football's true air war throwing again and again for receptions and touch downs. they won 35-14. the west inners played the most
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significant football seen in the east this year gushed the "new york times". the army players were confused and shy grinned with their great playing and the old-fashioned line smashing play was no match for the highly perfected attack of the i understand collegians. he played for the army team, but had an injury that day and couldn't perform. everything has gone wrong, he wrote to his girlfriend. the football team got beat most gloriously by notre dame. nobody heard of noter before then, but after that, they knew them as a power house. we think of them as a power house today, and it started with that game. the long chapter came to a close, and the game we enjoy today, the american game, was born. violence in football didn't
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end. the sport solved its problem and improved the quality at the same time, but nobody speaks of prohitting football anymore. when many people did, however, theodore roosevelt stepped in and played a critical role in the sports development and preservation. i think as a general rule, we don't want our politicians thrusting themselves into our sports. you know, the only thing that can make the bull championship series worse is congressional oversight; right? [laughter] but, the example of roosevelt does show that a skillful leader can use a light touch to solve a problem. with the nfl season threatened by lockout and maybe cancellation this year, who doesn't wish that football had a teddy roosevelt today? decades after roosevelt's involvement in football, reed
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healed his role. you asked me whether president roosevelt helped save the game? i can tell you that he did. theodore roosevelt took on many roles in american life, war hero, trust buster, canal builder, big stick wielding diplomat, but he deserves another title as well. he may have been football's most indispensable fan. thank you. [applause] >> i know john will take questions from you to. i know he'll take roosevelt as a light touch, and i thought in the beginning of the your detroit lines discussion, they define insanity which is keep doing the same thing, but expecting a different result, but red skins are getting close
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to you. if you do have any questions for john, please raise your hand. the microphone will come to you and state your name and affiliation if you would like, it would be appreciated. questions from the football audience? >> hi, thank you very much. i'm bill black, and you mentioned that the ncaa was born out of the meeting? >> yeah, so -- excuse me, i'm sorry, did the other sports come along afterwards? >> football was governed by a rules committee for years that walter camp, of course, helped organize and dominated throughout the 1880s and 1890s. it was a rule of committee with representatives from the major schools, and they would every winter they would meet and they would tweak the rules and, you know, develop the sport basically. well, in 1905, bill reed decided that with some other figures and
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higher education, they said, you know, this rule's committee is not going to change anything about football. they will not do what needs to be done. they created a separate organization and tried to sign up other, you know, a number of colleges to join it. briefly, there were two organizations competing for members and so on, and reed got harvard to join, and harvard joining with the help of roosevelt too was critical to the venture so it was the dominant organization. a few years later, it renamed itself the ncaa and over time, it gathered other collegiate sports under its umbrella, but it started as a football rules committee. >> hi, i'm lynnette, and i wondered you thought today no one really questions or attacks football in the way that they
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did in the early 20th century. do you think that that was actually untrue with the modern feminist movement and their attacks on sports that encouraged this kind of masculinity that overpowers over rights of women? >> that's a good point. i don't mean to suggest that football is uncriticized today. it's completely different from what it was like a century ago though. there are modern controversies. congress held hears on concussions in football. there's a lot of concern about the long term health effects that football can have on people. the nfl did a study where they found that nfl veterans i think are four or five times more likely to suffer from dementia than a member of the general public, and you can imagine why that might be true. there's a lot of ongoing research in this area, debates
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about equipment and tweaking the rules. the nfl just changed its kickoff rule. they will kick off from the 30 yard line. they moved it five yards. what happens is there's more touch backs the next time there's an nfl season, there's more kick backs rather than kick returns and kick returns are famously dangerous plays. they are doing things like that, and there's controversy about what was the organization that criticizeed the super bowl for domestic violence on super bowl sunday. i think that was shown to be not true or at least unproven, but football does come under attack, and there is a, you know, there are people who don't care for it, but they will not football the way these progressive prohibitionists tried to do and may have succeeded in doing if
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it had not been for these innovations. >> we have another question? if not, any final comments? >> i'm good. >> other than i'll sell the book for you? we have copies of the book available for you in the lobby and i know john would be happy to sign them and talk to you further about the topic. we appreciate seeing you and look forward to seeing you again soon at heritage. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> for more information, visit the author's website,
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>> if you walked down the streets of philadelphia or new york in the 1850s and asked somebody, well, what is the most pressing problem facing america at this time? they would have told you it's the sectarian conflict, the fact the catholics are trying to take over. they are trying to take over america, and there was a rumor that the pope was going to come and establish headquarters in cincinnati. [laughter] why cincinnati, i don't know. it seems the pope would have better sense than that, but nevertheless this was the rumor
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and he was going to establish his head jr. quarters at the jewish hospital in cincinnati. [laughter] you get this connection it's a conspiracy. americans love conspiracies, and that was part of the conspiracy, so so far we had nothing about slaver riders; right? -- slavery; right? these guys are bent on destroying the catholic church and as one of the ministers said, exterminating roman catholics. so, thomas mast, the german protestant immigrant came over, one the great political cartoonists of the day in the 1850s and 1860s. he gave us santa claus, the democratic donkey and the republican elephant, and here he has a cartoon. many people couldn't read in those days, but they could, in fact, understand cartoons, and here's a cartoon which shows --
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you may think these are crocodiles coming to shore, but they are the roman catholic church coming to tank our children. in the background, there's not the white house, but it is st. peter's cathedral, and although you can't see it on this, up here it says taminy hall. [laughter] that hall, of course, is the democratic party organization of new york, and thomas mast was a republican. well, the republican party was the first major evangelical party in america founded in 1854 bringing together the anti-catholic wing of the party with the anti-slavery wing, and here the anti-catholic wing of the party. the american patriot. it was a party newspaper for the american party which eventually folded into the republican party. they are opposed to people
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aggression and roman catholics and opposed to notaries, opposed to secret foreign orders and so on. they wanted to restrict immigration, but restrict the rights of roman catholics to vote and to hold office. now, the republican party was the justify spring of -- offspring of these two strings, the anti-slavery and anti-at that time -- catholic. keep in mind most of the republican party did not care about slavery where it already existed. they wanted to keep the territories white. they wanted to keep the slaves out of the territories, so white men could have opportunity there because they believed that any place where slaves go, whites
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cannot compete obviously because slaves don't take wages, so the republican party built itself and builds itself as the white man's party. here you have abraham lincoln don'ting steven douglas in the famous senatorial campaign. the republican party slogan that year was vanquish the twin december -- now, i should tell you in full disclosure that abraham lincoln was not a religious biggot. he swallowed the republican line because it was very effective among the republican party base. you know, you heard in politics get out the bass, get out the bass. the republican party base were protestant working men in the cities. they were congressman's in the small towns and farms across the
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northeast, new epg land, and the -- england and the midwest, and this resinated to this constituency, and so lincoln campaigned under that slogan in 1858. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> "wild card" is the name of the book. the author is mark joseph. mr. joseph, what have we learned new about sarah palin in your book? >> i spent a chapter and a half on her religious background, the highest one has reached the height of american power. that's one of the untold stories of the rise of sarah palin, not just the rise of evangelical in america, but the background of politics. >> what's the significance of that background in your view? >> that's an open question what
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that means exactly, but she considers herself an evangelical coming from the tradition with the exception of john ashcarrot, that's the highest one american has reached in american power. >> is she still a factor in republican politics? >> absolutely, and i think that in the point of ronald reagan years, this is still 1957, 20 years away from reaching his maximum impact. i think my hunch is she will not run, but if she's well-advised, she'll spend time to lead a movement, and that's what i think will happen in the years ahead. it could go another way, but that's my best guess. >> did you spend time at the wasilla church? >> i did not. i met her one time and there's other books out right now with other people who spent a lot of time with her. i think i have the advantage of


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